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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Pre-Departure Information

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

U.S. Customs Info

What to expect if you're searched at Customs:
Download MS Word file

US Department of State Study Abroad Program Web Site

Airport Security in Boston and the US:
Logan Airport (Boston), Security Information

General Travel Information

Please read the following lists very carefully.

The following items are prohibited from your checked AND carry-on luggage AT ALL TIMES.

Fireworks, signal flares, sparklers or other explosives.
Pressure containers such as spray cans, scuba tanks, propane/butane tanks, CO2 cartridges, and self-inflating rafts.
Weapons such as firearms, ammunition, gunpowder, mace, tear gas or pepper spray.
Knives and cutting instruments of all kinds are prohibited.
Other hazardous materials — dry ice, gasoline-powered tools, wet-cell batteries, camping equipment with fuel, radioactive materials, poisons, and infectious substances.
The following items are prohibited from your carry-on luggage AT ALL TIMES:

Automatic weapons
BB guns
Billy Clubs
Blasting caps
Bows and Arrows
Box cutters
Brass Knuckles
Bull whips
Cattle prods
Compressed air guns
Disabling chemicals or gases
Fire extinguishers
Flare pistols
Gun lighters
Gun powder
Hand grenades
Hunting knives
Ice axe/ice pick
Knives (of any length)
 Martial Arts devices
Meat cleavers
Metal scissors with pointed tips
Pellet guns
Pepper spray
Plastic explosives
Portable power drills
Portable power saws
Religious knives
Replica weapons
Road flares
SCUBA knives
Shot guns
Spear guns
Starter pistols
Straight razors
Stun guns/shocking devices
Tear gas
Throwing stars
Toy transformer robots (forms toy gun)
Toy weapons

The following items may be permitted, but you must declare them and have them properly inspected to ensure they do not conceal a prohibited item:

Baseball bats
Bowling Balls
Cricket bats
Golf clubs
Eye lash curlers
Fishing poles
Hockey sticks
Horse shoes
Knitting needles
Laptops and notebook computers
Nail clippers
 Nail files
Needles and syringes with documented medical need
Parachutes - without cartridge
Personal audible alarms
Pool cues
Restraining devices
Safety razors (including disposable razors)
Ski Poles
Walking cane

We want to assure you that you will have access to high-quality foods suitable for all diets throughout your stay.  PLEASE DO NOT BRING ANY FOOD WITH YOU.  The following items MUST NOT BE BROUGHT INTO THE UNITED STATES under any circumstances.  If Customs Officials find these items, you will certainly have to throw them away and you may have to pay a fine:

Fruits, Vegetables, Plants and plant products, cuttings, seeds, and unprocessed plant products
Meat and meat products, including all types of meat and poultry, fresh meats, dried meats, smoked meats, sausages, canned meats and/or meat products. Also, you may not bring in food products that have been prepared with meat.
Animals, birds, and eggs
(You may bring bakery items and certain cheeses into the United States, but you MUST declare them.)
Airport Security Issues

For special travel advisories concerning security threats at your destination, call the Department of Transportation’s Travel Advisory Line at 1-800-221-0673.
Arrive early. Current security measures increase time needed to check in. When traveling with young children, infants, elderly or disabled passengers, build in even more time.
DO NOT leave your car unattended in front of the terminal. Security measures mean local parking rules are being strictly enforced and your car may be towed.
Keep your photo identification handy. If you do not have a photo ID, make sure you have two pieces of identification, one of which must be issued by a government authority. Minors are not required to have identification. Failure to have proper identification may result in additional security scrutiny. Some airlines may prohibit you from boarding without proper ID.
For international flights, airlines are required to collect your full name and ask you for a contact name and phone number.
Keep your eyes open for unattended packages and bags, and report them to authorities. Watch your bags and don’t accept packages from strangers.
Be prepared to answer questions about who packed your bags and whether you might have left them unattended at any time. Think carefully and answer honestly - history has shown that criminals and terrorists use unwitting passengers to carry bombs or other dangerous items on board aircraft, either by tricking passengers into carrying packages or by simply slipping items into unwatched bags. If you have any doubts, say so.
Do not joke about having a bomb or firearm in your possession. Security personnel are trained to react when they hear these words. Penalties can be severe, and can include the possibility of time in prison and/or fines.
Both carry-on and checked bags are subject to being hand-searched, especially when airline security personnel cannot determine by X-ray the contents of a package.
Leave gifts unwrapped until after you arrive at your destination. Airline security personnel will open it if X-rays are unable to identify the contents.
Leave your firearms at home, and do not pack fireworks, flammable materials, household cleaners, or pressurized containers. Remember that violators of hazardous materials regulations are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 per violation, as well as possible criminal prosecution.

If you need medicines that contain potentially addictive drugs or narcotics (e.g., some cough medicines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants, or stimulants), do the following:

Declare all drugs, medicinals, and similar products to the appropriate Customs official.
Carry all drugs, medicinals, and similar products in their original containers.
Carry only the quantity of such substances that a person with that condition(e.g., chronic pain) would normally carry for his/her use.
Carry a prescription or written statement from your physician that the substances are being used under a doctor's supervision and that they are necessary for your physical well-being while traveling.
Sales Tax

Foreign visitors to the United States frequently confuse the sales tax with the value-added tax (VAT). The sales tax is a small tax on purchases (including food and books) or services, calculated at the time of purchase, which individual states and local governments assess and which the U.S. federal government neither determines nor receives.  Sales tax is almost never included in the actual sales price noted on the product. The United States does not have a VAT, and the federal government cannot refund state sales taxes.

Sales tax in Massachusetts is 5%